Friday, October 31, 2014

Things Kids Said While I Handed Out Candy

"Hi.  I'm Adam.  I'm supposed to tell you I'm Captain America, but I am really Adam.  My muscles are not really real."

A child reaches around my hand while I'm offering her candy for the bowl on my lap and grabs four pieces while I say "just one" because I see what she's up to.  She glares at me and says "I want a blue one".  I say "that's too bad - you took four".  She says "ooookay bitch! Look what I got!".  Then grins and proceeds to stab herself in the eye while trying to show me the giant Tootsie Rolls she snagged.  She was probably four.  I laughed while she cried to her mom.  Her mom probably called me a bitch too.  Not a good start.

Am I the only person who saves the chocolate for the later kids hoping there will be some left?  
A child berates my candy selection.  She says I need Skittles and Starburst.  I give her Dots.  She is unimpressed.

A pregnant looking girl around thirteen came up with her purse opened.  I asked what her costume was, really hoping she would say she was a pregnant lady, but she said "Monster High".  I realized she was Clawdeen - the child of the Werewolf.  On her way to the next house she complimented three little kids on their costumes and said she hoped her baby would be as cute as the little girl dressed as Ariel who was headed up my walk.  She volunteered she was six months along to Ariel's mom.  I wonder if she'll be back next year with the baby.  She was all alone without any parent or friend tagging along.  It broke my heart.

I ask a zombie if he is a cast member of The Walking Dead.  He says "Why do you people keep asking me that?"  I secretly cheer for his parents because he is around seven and ought not be watching TWD anyway.  He does growl convincingly.

I said "Oooh Elsa, what a lovely dress" and the girl said "can you please tell the lady across the street who I am?  She thinks I am a mermaid.  It hurt my feelings.  A LOT."

"May I please have a different treat?  I'm allergic to everything except that pink one with Princess Anna on it.  Actually I'm not allergic to any of those cool ones with the Frozen people so you have to give me them ALL okay?"  Ummm, no.  Not okay.  She got the pink one for a creative angle but was a little miffed when she actually had to trade the Dots I gave her back to me so I'd give it to her.  I'm hardcore with my one piece rule this year.

I say "hello Lucy!" to our neighbor's little girl.  She says "hey - how do you know my name?" I say "you live right behind me." She turns to her mom and says "she says she lives behind me, is that ok?"  Her mom says "this is where Andy lives too, and the dogs."  Lucy is still concerned and whispers "but she knows my naaammme." I clearly freak her out because I know too much.  Her brother is a Power Ranger.  He asks me to guess what he is and then when I guess correctly, he asks me how I knew.  I said "well, you're dressed like a Power Ranger for one thing."  He nodded and said "yeah, well there's that".

"You look like Mardi Gras.  You should throw beads.  That's what they do.  Do you have beads?"

I guess I kind of do look like Mardi Gras.

"Does this candy taste good to dead people?"  I answer in the affirmative but I don't really know.

"I am headless.  My brother wishes it was for real."

A mom compliments my Orioles blanket.  Her kid immediately says "Yankees suck!" My one piece rule is broken and they both go happily away with extra candy.

A mini Rick Grimes quacked at me.  I loved him.  He got three candy bars.  His hat was on point.

A child in a Hazmat suit informed me he would be happy to check my candy bowl and put it in isolation and pointed to his belly.  He also got an extra treat.

A child arrived in the thinnest, see through dress, covered in blood and carrying a doll also covered in blood.  I asked her if she was a Lifetime movie.  Her mom laughed so hard I gave her a candy bar too, because obviously she knows masterful comedic timing.  I still wish I knew what her daughter was.  I'm betting it starred Tori Spelling.

A bottle of ketchup asked if he could live with me.  I think it was the Orioles blanket.

A little girl's dad said she might be bit by a spider if she got too close to our spider webs.  She said "they have nice decorations and chocolate.  I'll risk it."

I had a little devil ask if she could have a dog biscuit instead of chocolate.  She said "I have two dogs and they can't eat chocolate because they die if you feed them the whole box." She got extra biscuits.  And chocolate too.  She promised not to share the chocolate and but said the biscuits "smelled really really good. Beefy like".  I hope she doesn't share them with herself.

"Is this the right Twix or the left Twix?  I would really like to know.  I like to be in control".

"I took my mask off because I was too scary.   Just so you know, I'm a ninja".  I asked if all ninjas were so scary.  He said, "no I have a clown mask.  A ninja is just what I AM."

It is 7:39.  I still have candy.  That's crazy.  This is the first year I've made it past the hour mark without running out.  I have half a bowl of Twix!

A bumblebee just asked for a dog biscuit instead of a candy bar.  She said "I think my dog will be impressed.  He likes eating treats and then I get home and my mom says "what treats did you get?" and he goes nuts so I need to have something for him."   I may have to move the dog treats back to my pocket.

A little boy came up and said "I broke your light.  I'm so sorry.  I feel really bad".  Then he hands me a piece of one of the solar lights.  I say "it's okay - it was an accident.  I'm glad you're okay."  He runs off and I hear him say "Damn.  Now we can't come back later because she's gonna remember me.  She had Twix left too.  Damn."

A group of children's mother drops them off at the end of the street.  I realize I am one of the "good houses" when kids come back for a second round.  I secretly wish it was a different group of kids because one of them is a scarecrow and he really freaks me out.  I can't pretend like I don't see them either.  Damn.

A German Shepherd takes a pee on our lawn.  Her owner says "I'm sorry - she was trying to hold it!"  I say "it's fine.  I have a German Shepherd mix myself.  Your girl is beautiful, would she like a biscuit?"  She says "sure!  Sadie let's go get a treat from this nice lady."  Sadie sniffed the treat and rejected it.  I set it down thinking she may have just been weirded out by the mask.  She sniffs it, licks it and pushes it away with her nose.  I secretly think she was saying "Oooookay bitch! Where's the candy?"  Her owner was embarrased, but accepted a candy bar for herself citing Twix as her favorite.

With three minutes to spare I still had seven candy bars.  In the four years we've lived here, I  have never made it to the end and still had candy.  As I was taking pictures of the decorations a few stragglers appeared.  I was down to two bars, and was unplugging the lamp I'd brought out so I could see what I was doing.  Just then two older kids with pillow cases came running up and I told them they were in luck because I had two pieces left.  They were really excited.  So was I.  The perfect amount of Halloween candy breaks down like this...

3 bags of snack size Heath bars
3 bags of snack size Twix (right and left preferably)
1 3 lb. bag of Child's Play mix (Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Dots and Midgees)
1 36 count box of Frozen Dig and Dips (I gave them to all the Elsas and Annas I saw)

My only disappointment?  I didn't see one Olaf.  I thought little brothers everywhere would be suckered into an Olaf costume to match all the sisters.  The one I thought was an Olaf was the headless child whose brother was wishing for his demise.  A Frozen drinking game would've really put me under the table though.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ghosts of the Past

I had in mind that I would post some photos from previous Halloweens here tonight.  I have some pictures of my dogs in costumes and some random trick or treating photos from when my nieces and nephews were very small and I went out with them, but I came across something much more interesting I thought I'd share.

Whenever I go to antique stores I always seem to get lost in ephemera.  I spend ages flipping through sheet music, theatre programs, magazines and photographs.  I am drawn like a moth to flame.  I'm not sure when this fascination started.  I know that as a child my Dad loved to go to a huge flea market each weekend in search of dolls to add to our collection, so that is a likely place as any to pin as the beginning.

As a child my mother was given a doll for her birthday each year on December 20th, then her mom would put it back in the box and wrap it up on Christmas Eve and make her gift it to her cousins who lived down the block.  I don't think she intended it to be so cruel, they simply couldn't afford many gifts and I assume my grandmother figured they would all play together anyhow, so they would all benefit.  My mom hated having beautiful dolls for only a few days and then seeing her cousins destroy them.  She could hardly breathe on them for those few days without angering my  grandmother since they had to look perfect and new when her cousins got them.

Because of this, my Dad bought her hundreds of dolls over the years.  He tried to replace the precious ones and give her back the most cherished dolls of her youth.  Ginny, Sonja Henie, Shirley Temple, and the Toni Home Permanent dolls all made themselves back to my mom when my dad would find them at flea markets and thrift shops.  He loved finding unique dolls of the world and would sometimes use them in his classroom since he taught geography and would show them as examples of the clothing and crafts of artists all over the world.  It really isn't any wonder I was so interested in costume design.

 At some point on every excursion I would wander off and get lost in stacks of paper goods.  Dad would always pick me up a few photographs or postcards.  They were cheap and plentiful and I loved the stories lost in the pictures and the brief captions on the back.

When Andy and I were first married we would visit the antique mall that is in a neighboring town.  We would often go with his mother and we would get lost for hours in all of the furniture and beautiful old things.  I wish we would go every so often still.  I love going and just looking through the treasures in the cases and finding curious bits of the lives of people that have turned up for sale.

On one occasion I bought a bunch of old photographs.  If I saw any that spoke to me I picked it up.  The most expensive one was four dollars - it was a photo of a baby standing on a chair that said "Hagerstown, Maryland" and since that was my new hometown I decided I had to have it.  I didn't know any of the people in the photographs.  I'm quite sure any of the folks who appeared in the pictures are long faded memories, but I wanted to take them home.  Here are a few of the photographs I rescued that day along with the captions written on the back.  They all see to be in the same handwriting.  I will save the curious one for last.


"July 4 1909"

"May 10, '08"

"May 10, '08"

"Let's have our picture taken - 1st June 1905"
"H - 1909"

"Aug 1907"
All of these are beautiful examples of period clothes.  When I found them I thought about how useful they would be as research for shows set at the turn of the century.  They were a wonderful mix of candid and carefully planned pictures.  I love the one of the gentlemen trying to secure the huge and wonderful hat of the lady he is with.  It seems like these people may have been a group of friends and they appear in multiple photos together.  I wish I knew where they were taken or who they might be - they seem like the type of folks I'd want to be around.

Last but not least there is this image.

I adore it.  I love the woman who has been hoisted up and is laughing at her new viewpoint.  I also love the girl staring at the camera with the odd look on her face.  I can't decide if she is regretting lifting her friend or just eyeing up the photographer but I love her expression.  The back says "Aug 1907" but it also has something else captured there.

I believe this ghostly woman may also appear in the photo above with the dog.  I don't own a copy of the photo that has etched itself to the back of this one, but I'm happy to have this remembrance of this beautiful lady.  I love her slight smile, the tilt of her head and her piercing eyes.  None of the other photos have anything like this, and I just noticed her as I was looking through them again tonight.  It almost seems as if this photograph just couldn't bear being lost in a box and it had to come home with me.  I'm sorry it escaped my notice until now.  She looks happy to be found, don't you agree?

I hope you have many discoveries this week.  I hope you make an impression.  Over a hundred years later, this beautiful woman haunts me with questions - I hope you are the spark that makes someone in the distant future wonder who you are and that your secrets whisper just loud enough to be heard.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unexpected Day Off

We are really slow at work this week, waiting for parts to arrive.  I wasn't too excited when they asked if I would mind taking a day off because really I would always rather be making money, but there wasn't much of a choice, so today was a stay at home, sleep in kind of day.  From what I hear we will be incredibly busy and have overtime in December, so I should be happy to have an unexpected weekday free.

I didn't do too many exiting things, mostly dishes, laundry, picking up the house, and working on clearing out junk I don't really need.  I did manage to read a few chapters in the new Shopaholic book.  I am trying to space it out because I could easily blow through it in a couple of hours, but I have such a love for this series, no matter how silly it gets.  Becky Brandon nee Bloomwood is a girl after my own heart.

I also took a walk, picked up pizza for dinner, and made the neighbor children their Halloween treats.  I guess it was a more productive day than I thought!  I even managed to bake some more cookies while my friend Sherwyn was over this evening having dinner with us.  I made Snickerdoodles this time, and they were bacon free (ha ha).  The recipe was from Trisha Yearwood via the Food Network blog.  It is part of the Twelve Days of Cookies.  If I say so myself they are pretty delicious!

Don't they look yummy?

Awesome $2 bit of happiness from Rite Aid!

I love these books!  I love Taylor Swift and pumpkin spice coffee too.
I hope you all are having an awesome day, and that your tomorrow is wonderful too.

Much love y'all!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

So Un-Tech Savvy

You know what I can't figure out?

My IPod.  My desktop.  The thing that connects them to the internet (or doesn't in the case of my IPod).  My smart phone.  My dumb old landline.  My Amazon account.  My husband (just kidding honey, I figured you out a long time ago).

Basically if it has a wire that plugs into the wall I can't figure it out.  It's pathetic.

All I want to do is take the new Taylor Swift CD and transfer it to my IPod.  Most human beings over the age of four can perform this activity with their eyes closed.  I however have a copy of Red (for non Taylor Swift fans that was her last CD) that has yet to make it to the device because when it came out more than a year ago I couldn't figure out how to load it on the damnable Apple contraption.  Now 1989 is taunting me from the kitchen table where it isn't being played.

When I called Apple's ITech support for help last year, they unhelpfully told me if I wanted to speak to a rep I'd have to pay a service charge because I wasn't the original licensed owner of the equipment.   I had made the mistake of purchasing a pre-owned device because the Shuffle which I had (and could actually afford) only held about 8 CDs worth of songs.  I wouldn't even be able to load a tenth of my Christmas CDs on it, and upgrading it cost way too much.  To solve this problem, I did what most human beings over the age of four would do.  I found a college student on eBay who sold me his IPod Touch for $80 and threw in his case, extra cords, a car charger and a left me a note that said he promised he would use the money for textbooks.  I really hope he enjoyed the pizza and alcohol because I was in college once and I know what's up.  I also know that it's freaking crazy to pay for tech support.  So I hung up on Apple, gave up on Red making it to the IPod and listened on my ridiculously old school Sony Discman.  Then suddenly, yet unsurprisingly one day this summer it crapped out on me.

I really should have tried to get that college kid's number.  He probably could've fixed it over the phone because he's capable of reading the instruction book - the one helpful thing he neglected to include.

I am good with books, printed text and instruction sheets.  You don't have to plug them in.  I can even usually figure out the Kindle but I'm convinced they made it easy on purpose because if they overcomplicated it the book nerds wouldn't buy one.

I am bad with technology.  This is known.

I should have bought the album on Amazon because I could have added the digital files to my computer and gotten them on the IPod that way, or at the very least I could have listened on my phone because it has awesome Beats by Dre speakers, but I decided I had to buy it at Target for the bonus tracks.  When I made it there after work there were only five copies left, so I am not the only girl who had to own it on the first day.

I might be the only one who hasn't listened to it yet.

If you have any helpful suggestions for me that won't make me feel like brainless fool, I'd welcome them.  They will likely make my eyes glaze over and I will stare at the screen going "huh? what?" and make you regret your kind hearted helpfulness, but I'd welcome them just the same.

I'll be home all day tomorrow due to a slow work week.  Hopefully I will figure it out and tomorrow I can brag about my ability to miraculously get music to jump from a round piece of plastic to my ears through six different digital transfers and some prayers.  Hopefully.

Wish me luck and ask the tech gods for sympathy.  They sure aren't getting any money for their assistance!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Double Chocolate Cookies with Candied Bacon Bits

I made a batch of these double chocolate and bacon cookies a few years back and took them home for my family.  I thought they were pretty smashing and Andy did too but they got some mixed reactions from the kids (my nieces and nephews).  I don't remember exactly what we were talking about today at work that got me thinking about them and describing their yum-osity, but I already have a wide variety of responses ranging from "I wouldn't even try that" to "You need to prove that they are good by bringing us some tomorrow!"  In the interest of proving bacon really does make everything better, I whipped up a batch.

The basic double chocolate cookie recipe I followed can be found on All under Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I made the following small changes - Where it says "soften butter" I zapped the butter in the microwave and got it to the half melted point to make it easier to combine with the sugar and let it cool slightly before I added the eggs so they wouldn't cook.  I omitted the salt because the bacon more than made up for it, and I did not add the optional walnuts.  I think the cookies take a few minutes longer than they call for.  I left each batch in for ten minutes, checked them and then added an additional two minutes of baking time.  This was in my convection oven so I had the heat set at 325 degrees and left the convection feature on.

I chose Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips because they are bigger than most chips and they are delicately sweet and delicious.  I also, of course added bacon!  Here is how I made it.

Take 5 strips of bacon (I used Hormel Black Label because there was a 20% off Target Cartwheel coupon for it this week and I was there to pick up the new Taylor Swift CD).  Stack it and cut the stack into four strips lengthwise with kitchen shears.  In a frying pan over medium heat, use the shears to snip tiny bits off each of the long strips.  This gives you tiny, crunchy bits that are large enough to taste but small enough to blend in without overwhelming the cookie.  Allow the pieces to crisp for at least five minutes, stirring often and breaking up any bits that may have stuck together with a spatula.  Pour off grease and put back on low heat, watching carefully.  Add one tablespoon of brown sugar and sweep it quickly through the remaining bacon drippings, tossing it well to combine.  If necessary add one teaspoon of fruit juice or a splash of soda to help dissolve the sugar and coat the pieces.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Add the bacon to the cookie mixture last and stir well to combine.  I popped the whole bowl in the freezer for ten minutes to help the soft dough be able to form spoonfuls to drop on parchment covered cookie sheets.

The end result are chewy, moist, chocolaty cookies with a hint of a smoky, salty crunch.   If you enjoy chocolate covered pretzels, give these a try.  They're pretty fab, and honestly if you didn't hear about the bacon you would wonder where the extra delicious bits came from.  I'll be delivering these special treats to work tomorrow!  Much love to all of you folks - hope you give these a try!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

100 Posts!

When I first started this little blog I thought it would be something completely different.

  I knew I intended for it to be about gratitude for the many blessings I have, but I had some BIG IDEAS that I was sure were going to appear on every page and I would hit the ground running.

I had a passion for all things makeup that started when I was in college and I took my first theatrical makeup class.  I loved everything about it - the special effects and radical changes you could make in your appearance most of all.  It was a fun and exciting escape from the everyday and I thought it was the most exciting part of the new experiences I was having as a theatre major.  I learned lots from my professor Ed, but I also read books and watched demonstrations and went to seminars to find out more.  When I was a graduate student I actually got to teach a class about it and share what I learned.  Makeup never stopped being exciting and I never stopped wanting to learn new tricks and tips, but I slowly transitioned away from the theatre world and I stopped doing it on a day to day basis.  I think my original intention for this blog was to be much more of a beauty and makeup related page, and also I expected it would reflect my love of finding great deals and trying out the latest products through beauty subscriptions.  

Along the way I've visited that idea, but it was always hit or miss and I would go weeks or even months at a time without posting anything.  I was overwhelmed by the crazy amount of beauty blogs that seemed to repeat a lot of the same ideas that I had but in a bigger way and to hundreds of devoted subscribers, and I wasn't able to compete. My entries took on a kind of weird, braggy "look at this awesome stuff" vibe and I didn't like it at all.  Nobody else seemed to either.

It took me a long time to realize that I wasn't in a competition.  I was in this for myself.

Writing a little every day has really helped me.  It's given me a more positive outlook.  I'm grateful for that.

If you have been following along, or even if these are the first words that sprung from my mind that you have ever read, you may have noticed from the entries on the right that I post here every day.  It may just be a few pictures and a short story about how that day went, or it may be a long rant about an experience I've had that I needed an outlet for.  Maybe you find it boring and you navigate away as soon as you can click on a new window.  Maybe I wrote something you can relate to and you feel like we're kindred spirits.  Maybe you were sent here by accident and you were actually trying to find out how to rid your lawn of weeds while the word "dandelion" was flagged in cyberspace and it directed you here by the odd whims of the computer gods.

No matter how you arrived, thanks for reading.  I'm looking forward to sitting down and typing every day.  I think of new topics all the time and I'm learning that the more I show gratitude for the little things that make me happy, the more I realize that my worries are small and I have A LOT to be thankful for.

I leave you today with the words to a classic tune by Irving Berlin - it sums things up perfectly.

Taking stock of what I have and what I haven't
What do I find?
The things I got will keep me satisfied
Checking up on what I have and what I haven't
What do I find?
A healthy balance on the credit side
Got no diamond
Got no pearl
Still I think I'm a lucky girl
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Got no mansion
Got no yacht
Still I'm happy with what I got
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Gives me a lovely day
Gives me the Milky Way
Got no checkbooks
Got no banks
Still I'd like to express my thanks
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening
I'm all right
 And as a bonus you get a few makeup photos from times I messed around and found some new techniques I was excited about.  My friend Cody had cobweb "hair" built into his makeup and we added some plastic spiders later on.  His nephew Dru picked his makeup from a photo he liked and I tried to make him look "dead and cool" as per his request.

Here, I was just screwing around making some fairy wing appliances out of glue.  I should someday post a tutorial because this is an easy to make Halloween shindig look.  Maybe I will post it tomorrow for my 101st post!  I'm going to be here for the foreseeable future so be on the lookout!

Much love to y'all!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Magical Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Several years ago I read an article in Entertainment Weekly magazine written by Neil Patrick Harris.  As a child who was roughly the same age as his Doogie Howser M.D. character, I was completely smitten with the young actor.  I followed his career, and when he began appearing in Broadway shows and working in regional theatre I was overjoyed to find that my favorite TV boyfriend was still acting and doing well.  The article detailed his successful navigation of the waters of child stardom and also was a vehicle to lend advice to struggling actors to keep at it.  The article, its witty conversational tone and the story of his perseverance and what would come of it stuck with me for ages.  When I found out he had written an autobiography I wanted to be the first in line to read it.  I started requesting copies months ago, and when Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography showed up as a selection on Blogging For Books I was overjoyed.

This book is everything.

I must admit, for all the love I have for Neil Patrick Harris as an actor, I may love him as an author even more.  This book is truly enjoyable for people who discovered this talented man at any stage of his career.  If you never met him until he showed up in glitter, heels and a platinum blonde wig on Broadway as Hedwig or if you've reveled in his talent since he starred with Whoopi Goldberg in Clara's Heart, there's something here for you.  Many people came to love him as the womanizing Barney on How I Met Your Mother, but oddly I missed that whole trajectory of his career.  Reading about it in the truly awesome "Choose Your Own Adventure" format, I have broken out the DVDs of the first four seasons that I bought my husband for Christmas.  I'm such a completionist that I have yet to watch any episodes of the show because i hadn't seen it from the beginning, so now I have the joy of discovering NPH in a new to me show.  I am a very lucky girl.

This book takes you on a wild ride.  If you have never experienced the joy of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, here's how it works.  You make your way happily along in the story and then at several points you are presented with a choice.  Do you want to have a happy childhood in New Mexico with a loving family that supports your love of acting?  Turn to page 8.  Do you want a not so idyllic childhood?  Turn to page 6 and find out what happens to the boy raised in a crack den.  The choices are constant and take you in hilarious directions.  You may be beaten to death by the son of a famous actor, or wind up as dinner for hungry piranhas if you make an unwise decision based on your love of Sondheim.  Sometimes you will be saddled with co-stars who are quite literally nuts but you'll also be treated to some swell cocktails and get to have an amazing encounter with a hot German circus performer.  No matter where you turn, there is magic.  You may even be elected president by a bunch of magical folks shortly after marrying the man of your dreams and raising the most adorable twins ever created. It's all in how you choose!

I have now read this book several ways.  I've jumped around and chosen many adventures.  I've casually leafed through and found a page where Neil declared my method of reading would probably lead us to be besties if we met in person.  I already knew that would happen, but now I realize that Neil Patrick Harris can read my mind.  He is that cool.  He GETS me.

You need to read this book.  When it ends you need to go back and read it again and again.  At the very end make a note because I know my new best friend (who starred in Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog - the most wonderful web series of all time) would want you to.  Write "If you'd like to watch the most amazing way to announce your world domination and appointment as the host of the Academy Awards check out your recent Instagram post!"

Thank you SO SO much to Blogging For Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book - several times!  It gets five shiny gold stars and the promise of many happy returns to the How I Met Your Mother section which I intentionally glossed over so I wouldn't spoil anything for myself.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Most Hilarious Pot Holder You Will Ever See

I love to laugh.  If you know me, you probably would remark that my laugh is memorable.  Some would call it stupid or obnoxious, but if you've been around to hear it when I'm uncontrollably cracking up you would probably agree that it's pretty infectious too.  It makes other people laugh with me or at me.  All the same it's funny stuff.

I like to think I am a good audience member because I know that a cast for a theatre production can tell when I am really enjoying a show.  They probably remark to each other about the crazy lady in the audience who is letting them know they're killing it.  I have had friends tell me they know it's a good show if they can hear me laughing in the wings.  I like spreading that kind of joy.

I have a very brief story to tell that makes me laugh every time I think of it.

One day Andy and I were out shopping at Ollie's.  If you don't know, Ollie's is a bargain basement store where there are tons of books, bedding, toys, furniture - anything you can think of really, and it is all sort of lumped together in a semi-organized fashion that looks a little chaotic and junky.  I like the store because there are always bargains to be had, and their "Good stuff cheap!" logo is usually spot on.

We're walking through the aisles of bedding and towels and heading up toward the checkout when we come across two older ladies giggling at an endcap.

I can't see what she's holding, but one lady is positively caressing a pot holder and saying "I need a pair to take home with me".

When they realize they have an audience the tittering becomes a bit higher pitched and the lady who was doing the fondling drops the pot holder and blushes from head to toe.  Both of the women slink around the corner, the non-fondling one snorts and then all he'll breaks loose and they belly laugh their way across the store.

Andy and I are a little perplexed but then we actually get a look at what she was holding.

And we die.  We can hardly breathe from laughing.  We're cracking jokes and pointing and doing some fondling of our own while tears threaten to spill down our cheeks.

Obviously we couldn't leave the store without it.  Andy indelicately referred to it as the "ballsack pot holder" and declared it a must have.  At $1.29 it may have been the best money we ever spent.  

It was hung in our kitchen the second we arrived home, and "Grandma's favorite" pair looks down over every dish I make in my kitchen.  It even matches my Brady Bunch orange countertops perfectly.  

I can't tell you how many times I have looked up and cracked up over this little piece of whimsy.  Whoever printed this marvelous bit of cloth, I commend you for making each day a little brighter and giving me a reason to laugh.  

Sometimes I'm laughing at the memory of the two women who were so taken with the moment.  Most of the time I'm laughing because we're the couple who realizes these pears are comedy gold, and I love that about us.

We rock. 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I hope that when laughter strikes you let it rip through you and tear you up.  Laughter is awesome.  Much love folks!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Christmas in the Movies

I am a Christmas movie nut.  I have a big collection of holiday DVDs and I like to watch them all year long, not just as seasonal fare.  I love Christmas themed books too.  Actually I love nearly any book or movie that is set in the wintertime and around the holidays.   It should come as no surprise that most of my favorite movies have at least a scene featuring this most wonderful time of the year.

Here are a few of my favorite films that feature the holidays - this is just a list, it isn't in any particular order, but it is definitely a strong theme in movies I love.  If you have any suggestions as to movies that aren't necessarily Christmas movies that feature the holidays, I would love to hear about them and watch them.  I am open to films in any genre and I love to discover new ones.  Flat out Christmas movies are fine too!

1. Love Actually - this is definitely in my top three favorite movies of all time.  It heavily features Christmas, but I don't really consider it a Christmas movie.  It also features a young Andrew Lincoln for you Walking Dead fans.

2. It's A Wonderful Life - The scene where a young George Bailey misses Mary's declaration of love in his deaf ear gets me every time.  I watch it every year more than once.  Frank Capra was a genius at capturing emotion and the film is every bit as relevant now as it was when it was shot.

3.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - My favorite of the Harry Potter movies features the first Christmas Harry spends at Hogwarts.  The Yule Ball, the Christmas trees magically covered with snow and the Weasley sweaters make this movie so delightful to me.  I love this story best and I still get all teary about Cedric Diggory.  Maybe tears are a thematic linking element in my favorite films too.

4.  Die Hard - A young Bruce Willis rescues a bunch of Christmas party-goers trapped in a high rise by a terrorist.  He does it in bare feet and a wife beater.  This movie is heaven.  The sequel is even better.  Nothing says Christmas like stabbing a bad guy in the face with an icicle!

5.  Scrooged - Yes, it's a retelling of A Christmas Carol so it's clearly a Christmas movie, but it is a Christmas movie with Bill Murray at the top of his game.  The supporting cast amaze me with their comedic chops and I see something new every time I watch it.

So tell me - what holiday-ish movies do I need to watch right now?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

American Horror Story Freakshow - A No-Go

I was really hoping I would love this season of American Horror Story but I don't think I am interested in watching any more of it.

I have watched all three seasons to this point, and while there were some moments I really loved and was thrilled with, there were also some points in each season where I was ready to throw in the towel.  I stuck it out even when I hated the season (Asylum) thinking it would get better, but Freakshow already has exhibited signs of veering into "I can't be bothered to waste my life watching this" territory.

The first season was a "classic" hanted house story.  I was really engaged by the daughter's story and enjoyed Tessa Farmiga in the role.  I also thought Zachary Quinto was great fun as half of the gay couple who had their own ties to the house.  However, there were so many story lines by the end that everything was a jumble and I wasn't as excited as I was in the beginning.  I always think the show suffers when it follows too many paths.  Freakshow has at least seven independent storylines and we're just getting started.  This is bad.

The second season "Asylum" was a cold start for me.  I didn't really care much about the story line and only stuck around knowing one of my favorite actors Chloe Sevigny was in the mix.  It didn't pick up for me until three quarters of the way through when Zachary Quinto saved the day again and gave me a reason to be interested.  After the episode in his apartment I stopped caring again and I honestly don't know how the season ended.   I have already stopped caring about Michael Chiklis's character on Freakshow after twenty minutes of screen time.  No bueno.

Coven was probably the season I watched  with the most anticipation, although at times the scenes went so far into gorey gross out territory they made me physically ill.  Sometimes the campiness was completely supplanted by a weird shocking torture porn vibe that didn't sit well with me.  On several occasions I found myself sitting in front of the television wondering why I was watching the show, but I wanted to know how they would neatly tie it up and who the new supreme would be.  Honestly I can't remember, so it was a huge waste of hours of my time.  The torture porn vibe is back this season.  Not cool.

I don't care for the new season for several reasons.  The first is simple.  I don't like clowns.  I did as a kid.  I had a whole collection of clown dolls and figurines.  Then I became a teeneager and I read a Stephen King novel called It.  That was enough to put me off clowns for good.

Even putting my distaste for clowns aside, this season is very upsetting.  There are dozens of reasons but here are my three biggest pet peeves so far (and we''re only two episodes in)

1.  The actors cast this season who owe their physical characteristics to genetics rather than makeup are only spectacle.  I find this depressing on many levels.  So far prosthetic makeup and digitally enhanced actors have won nearly all of the storylines and screen time.  It's a huge waste of potential and it isn't the reason I wanted to watch.   Mat Fraser, the actor who plays Paul the illustrated "seal" is the reason I tuned in.  I saw an interview with him on how hard he works to be taken seriously as an actor and how this was a tremendous opportunity for him.  He was charming, warm, witty and hilarious.  He made me forget my worry over scary killer clowns.  His primary use so far is window dressing and I don't see this changing.

2.  Kathy Bates has an accent.  When I'm not wondering what she's saying I'm wondering why on earth an acting choice could bother me so much that it makes me want to scream.  If the actor playing her son had the same accent I wouldn't have made it through the first episode.  It is confusing and maddening, and the only purpose I can see it serving is to make my choice of giving up on this season easier.

3.  The musical numbers are insane.  It feels like I'm watching Glee on acid.  I can't see why a period piece throws itself into the future whenever someone picks up a microphone.  Jessica Lange is the worst David Bowie impersonator in the history of time and Sarah Paulson is no Fiona Apple.  According to Ryan Murphey there are "about five" of these freaky anachronistic jumps into the future of music.  I don't want to waste my time watching another one.  I'm sure the people scouring the internet for clips of Jessica Lange covering Lana del Rey think I'm nuts but it deals the deal of changing AHS from a must watch to a whatever in two short episodes.  I won't lose any sleep over it.  (Except I already have thanks to that damn clown.)

I hope if you're watching you're enjoying it.  Tell me if it redeems itself.  At the moment the prospects seem bleak.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Do You See?

On the way to work this morning my mother in law Lana asked me if I had a photo of myself with all of my sisters.  She has met my oldest sister Marcia because Marc lives in a town only half an hour away.  She also was able to meet my parents once, briefly, when they came to visit my sister on the occasion of  my nephew's wedding.  I talk about my family often, and I'm always relating stories about my siblings, nieces and nephews, but it shocked me to realize that Andy's mom has no visual reference for most of my family members.

This is the most recent picture of all of my siblings together, and it was taken eight years ago.  Why am I not smiling?  It looks like they just woke me up.  From the left:  Myself (Michelle), Monica, Marcia, Marilyn and Michael.  Yes, our names all start with the letter "M".  My parents are Jane and Joseph, and our middle names all start with "J". (Joy, Jane, Jean, Joyce and Joseph).  It is always my "fun fact" when people ask for an ice breaker style introduction.
I've thought about this all day.  I find it so odd that when we hear stories told by friends, neighbors, and often even our own family we fill in the blanks with our imaginings of what the faces behind the tale may look like.

I think back to all the stories I've heard of my husband's father Sam and how I always picture him.  Sam passed away before I ever had the chance to meet him, before I even met Andy.  There is a picture of a child Andy and his brother Matthew with Sam that I always reference in my mind to fill in the blanks.  He is young, and grinning and joy filled.  This is the way I always see him.

I really ought to start smiling in pictures.  I have dozens upon dozens of where I'm frowning or looking off into the distance.  The few where I am outright grinning and appear to be thrilled with the moment I am captured in are few and far between.    In most of them, I don't look that great and all I can focus on are my crooked teeth or goofy hair or crazy outfit.  If there were only one photo of me left behind for the world to craft a visual reference of me, what would I want it to be?

I'd want it to look like Sam's.  Joyful.  Fun.  Maybe slightly overwhelmed by the moment, but glad as hell to be in it.  I'd want it to look more like the pictures of the children in my life look.  Look at this photo of my niece Niah.  She's not just my niece, she's my great niece, my nephew Patrick and his wife Kelli's first child.

She looks like this in nearly every picture (except the ones where I'm holding her where she's about to bawl her face off - true story).  Even Patrick is grinning.  It is hard not to when you're holding this happy girl, although Patrick smiles unabashedly in photos all the time.  The kid is happy.  With good reason.  I'm happy too, but you'd hardly ever tell by looking at a photo of me.  That ought to be different.

If you're going to think of me, I hope the girl you're imagining looks something like this.

It isn't a perfect picture.  The lighting is crazy.  I have a goofy grin.  I'm dressed as a fairy, blah blah blah.

What makes this photo different is some true happiness.  It was the same year as the photo I'm in with my siblings.  It was the same month.  It was taken shortly after my friend Judy and I got to this party and I hadn't even started drinking.  I was just busy flapping my wings, dancing and having a great time.

 The fairy version of me forgot to be self-conscious.  She forgot to adopt her tight lipped smile so no one could see the teeth that she never got fixed because she was a trumpet major and didn't want vanity to interfere with musicianship.  More importantly she's a heck of a lot more approachable than any of the versions of her regularly captured on film that try too hard to be someone else's version of normal.

My version of normal is joyful and loved.  And I need to start embracing it.

I just took a picture of myself grinning.  I deleted it because I looked like Charles Manson.  True story.

Change takes time.  I hope you notice more grins in my photos.  I hope that I won't be afraid to look happy.  I hope the same for you.

Much love to all of you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Something Out Of Nothing

I wish our great ideas had monetary value.

I spend a lot of time each day thinking of wonderful projects I could craft, stories I could tell and dishes I could cook or bake.

What's the problem?  The problem is these things never happen.

I have a tremendous amount of trouble getting the creative notions I have to translate themselves into anything tangible.
I'm not sure what the disconnect is.  I plan out exactly how to go about doing each task, from planning a jewelry piece to figuring out the perfect ingredients to put into a dish, and then I take them and push them back into the cob web covered depths of my mind.  They will sit there and cause me endless anxiety.  I want to begin but I'm riddled with doubts that keep me from trying.

Let me give you an example.  Nearly three years ago I purchased a resin pendant with a tiny picture of an octopus in it's cabachon center.  For the last three years I have thought of creating a necklace around it.  It has an aquatic theme and there are bits of beach glass and pearls in sea foam green and cobalt blue that will make up the waves of the chains.  Silver wires that hold tiny opalescent seed beads will shoot off from the main twists to mimic the spray of the ocean.  Tiny shells and bits of spring green embroidery floss will peek through at random places to look like seaweed and things the tide would carry in.  I can visualize it perfectly, but I never seem to make it.

Part of the reason is, I nearly always find the reality of an idea a stunning disappointment.  I know that if and when this necklace comes together I will wish it were better and that it were created by someone with skill I feel I lack.  I tell myself I shouldn't try a new recipe because Andy may not like it since I am hopeless in the kitchen and wouldn't be able to do it justice anyway.  I have a hundred short stories filed in dusty boxes in the dusty crawl space of my mind's attic, but who will read them without judging them and finding them lacking?

It sometimes amazes me I write here every day.  I find it difficult that I have so few people that read these entries, and yet my plans to get people to come in droves to read my thoughts go exactly nowhere like everything else.  I guess I feel safe because I'm used to going unnoticed.

When I was in Alabama, back in the days of yore when I actually acted on my impulses, my friend and mentor Ruth called the kind of costuming magic we did in my undergraduate program "spit and sawdust theatre".  I had a terrible time spending money when I got to grad school because I was busy dreaming up ways we could make something for nothing.  When I actually had money to spend on a show I would scrimp and save and try and spread the money out by having creative and cheap solutions for everything.  I always had money left over and we would spend it on equipment or supplies because if you didn't spend your budget and they found out you could make due with less than they provided, next time you would just have less money instead of being rewarded for your frugality.  This pained me and was difficult to get used to.  I thought the ability to make a beautiful thing out of "spit and sawdust" was a laudable quality.

Is this why I no longer act on my ideas?  Why my dreams are fading in a tucked away corner when they should be brought to life?

I have lots of excuses.  I don't want to be judged.  I don't need to make something for myself to enjoy.  I'm not talented enough to try my best ideas.  No one really cares anyhow.  Why bother when no one pays attention?

Today I came up with an idea for a Christmas ornament.  I'm still working out the details.  There is little to no cost because it involves a lot of upcycled materials that are already kicking around.  It should be easy to make.  Easy enough that even I couldn't screw it up.  People who aren't me would probably like them.

What are the odds of them becoming a reality?

I must say, given my track record, they are not good.

Still, I am hoping and crossing my fingers that on Friday I will have something to show here.  I'm trying to be proactive and actually do at least one of my big plans a week.  A small and yet seemingly demanding goal.

Let's see what happens.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Literary Tag

I was tagged to share this on Instagram by @ireadtobeathe and thought it was fun.  Here's my list of answers - I'd love to hear your answers too or your thoughts on mine.  I'll probably revisit this a little later and expound upon my answers a bit.  In the meantime I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

1. Much Ado About Nothing - Shakespeare
2. Fair and Tender Ladies - Lee Smith
3. Daniel Torrence from Doctor Sleep
4. Ivy Rowe from Fair and Tender Ladies
5. "The tiniest story in your life can deeply touch another.  You cannot know the edge t your story might have.  Please let your stories be heard." - Sark
6. Dead Ever After - Charlaine Harris
7. The Green Mile
8. Business and Technical?
9. The Harry Potter series.
10. Hermione Granger

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Unravel by Calia Read Book Review

One of the many ways I find new books of interest is through LibraryThing.  It is an online community similar to Goodreads where you can share your book collection, reviews and general love of reading with other like minded folks.  I discovered the site a few months ago and entered to win a copy of Unravel by Calia Read partially because the cover was incredibly appealing and also because the book's blurb sounded fascinating.  I won this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and I encourage you to check out their site.  It is a wonderful way to find out about new books and to have the chance to win some to add to your collection.

Although it isn't required that you review the books you receive from this program or from Goodreads giveaways, the authors appreciate your feedback.  I am always slightly torn about posting reviews such as this one where I didn't respond well to the book.  I find however, it's a little unfair for me to sing the praises of a book I didn't care for.  I always try to find something positive to say about the books, and I truly hope they find an audience, even if I am not the reader they're after.  I have checked out the feedback on this book and it has received lots of five star ratings and glowing reviews, but it is certainly not for everyone and I will try to explain why without giving away any spoilers that reveal the mystery or twists in the novel.  The kind people at Random House who sent me this copy for review included a note that said "if you enjoy this book (and we hope you do!), we encourage you to spread the word to friends, family and other books lovers via LibraryThing, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter".  I hope that they also appreciate honest feedback from people like me who didn't quite fall in love with the book.

The main problem I had with Unravel is it simply didn't hold my interest. I picked it up several times and put it back down because I wasn't engaged by the story and was confused by the events of the first chapters.

 At first I thought the author was using an intentionally disjointed writing style to capture the main character Naomi's feelings of anxiety and unease in her clinical environment.  I had to revisit many passages in the book several times to make sense of their placement and purpose in the story.  I began to find the scattered, jumpy text distracting. As an occasional device I may have found it interesting, but it continued throughout the book and discouraged me from connecting with the characters.

Although I am a fan of the new adult genre and often read erotically charged novels, I felt the sex scenes in this book didn't play well. For me, when two characters have an undeniable chemistry it shouldn't be tinged by regret. It seemed every encounter Naomi had was riddled with a sense of anxiety and none of the fun.  It was very disappointing since the book deals with Naomi's time in a mental institution and is told mostly in flashback scenes where she describes her sexual encounters and relationships with Max and Lachlan to her doctor.

I honestly would have abandoned the book if I hadn't received it from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. I did finish the novel, and realized the "why" behind the descriptions of these flashback encounters and better understood the anxiety they would've caused the main characters.  However, the book contains graphic scenes of sexual abuse, rape and violence were stomach turning and truly horrible.   I could barely get through it.  There was also a sudden, jarring switch of narrator in the last few chapters was bothersome to me.  The choice to switch narrators felt manipulative and like a cheat after I had powered my way through a book I was getting little enjoyment from.  I simply couldn't recommend this book to a friend because the content was disturbing without being tempered with any moments that made me empathize with the characters or gave me hope that the tidy resolution would give them any lasting peace.

This book wasn't for me, but one thing I did truly enjoy was the gorgeous cover art. The frozen water droplets on the cover form a mask of sorts if you see the book at a distance. I found it beautiful, and if I saw it in a store I would be drawn it.  It was what made me read the blurb for the story in the first place.  I feel the cover alone will sell several copies of the book.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Target Fall Beauty Box 2014

My Target beauty box arrived today and it is awesome.  It was only $7 and contained five different samples from brands available at Target and  I am actually super excited because this box was a huge success for me.  I'm stoked to try all of these products and have wanted to try both of the full size items for awhile now.

Testing out the lipstick. 

Here's what was included in this season's box:

L'Oreal Colour Riche Extraordinaire Lipstick in color 601 - Nude Ballet (Full Size)

This feels very comfortable on and even lasted through dinner for me which really is extraordinary.  It is a liquid lipstick with a unique applicator that has doe foot material on a flexible tear drop shaped wand.  It has a distinct fragrance that is a little floral and sweet but I didn't mind it since it dissipated quickly after it was applied.  It doesn't have much flavor.  The color is a tiny bit lighter and less rosy than my natural lip shade but it was slightly glossy and looked nice on.  I was really excited to try this and will probably purchase more shades in this formula because I love the way it felt and it wasn't even the tiniest bit sticky.

L'Oreal Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray 2.2 oz. travel size

I have actually wanted to try this type of hairspray for awhile but found it very expensive for a product I use so seldom.  I love travel size hairsprays simply because I don't get dressed up to got out often and rarely have hairstyles that require much.  This small size will last ages for me.  It is very fine and isn't sticky.  You can also brush it out if you apply it too heavily, and it has a soft pleasant baby powder like fragrance.

Fekkai Blowout Hair Refreshing Dry Shampoo 1.7 oz. Travel size

I enjoy products from the Fekkai brand and picked up the gift sets of the volumizing shampoo, conditioner and and travel sized glossing cream when they were deeply discounted in January at Target a few years ago.  I was happy to try this dry shampoo (as I'm kind of obsessed with them - I have nine different brands right now in full or travel sizes).  It didn't take all the shine out of my hair and didn't seem too whitening like the Batiste spray from the Blush Mystery Beauty Box did.  It has a great apple scent which I really like.  I may try and trade for this to get some more when I run out.

Laneige BB Cushion SPF 50+ sample card

I have yet to try this product, but I like that it comes with a small version of the puff applicator and all three shades in miniature so you have plenty for a full application.  I'm not sure how expensive the full size product is but it has shown up in several beauty subscription boxes and I haven't received it yet, so I'm happy to try it.

Nyx Jumbo Eye Pencil in 604 Milk (Full Size)

This is by and far the product I was happiest to find in the box and it is the exact shade I was hoping for.  Many beauty "gurus" on YouTube and Instagram use the white Milk pencil as a base under bright or pastel powdered eye shadows to make them pop and I can see why.  It is creamy, easily blendable and and really works like a dream.  I can't wait to use this for a full day and see the staying power since creamy pencils like this tend to crease on my deep set, hooded eyelids.  In swatches it looks pretty rad, and if it has good staying power I will probably pick it up in the Strawberry Milk shade since I often wear pink toned shadows.

There was also a coupon for $3 off a $15 Target beauty department purchase, and another fabulous coupon code for 20% off any purchase at (which is also where my mystery beauty box subscription comes from).  The code offers free shipping and a free gift (which in my experience is often a lip balm and a foil packet of something from the DHS or Cotz brand).  Last time I received a Target beauty box my first mystery box was 20% off (I was resubscribing) and I used the percentage off to get the Nyx Butt Naked palette for only $20.  I would love to get the second version of this palette as well (which has dupes for several of the Urban Decay Naked palettes) but I really don't need it - I have a boatload of awesome palettes already that I need use.

If you would like to use the code for the Dermstore site and get 20% off, free shipping and a free gift, it is LOVEBEAUTY (all caps!)

Hope your weekend is splendid folks!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October Ipsy Glam Bag

It's Ipsy time again.  That time when my glam bag finally shows up and I'm a little disappointed, and yet somehow I keep sticking around for another month.  I probably should cancel this subscription but I don't for three reasons.

1.  They always have brands that are new to me and I get to try a wide variety of products.
2.  There is usually at least one item that I really enjoy and would repurchase if I ran out.
3.  The $10 price point is about the cheapest in beauty box land and I'd miss the surprises.

After canceling everything except this and Blush Mystery Beauty Box (which I just haven't gotten around to cancelling yet because they make it difficult by forcing you to call and then not being reachable by phone), I don't think the ten bucks a month is a huge price to pay for a little beauty excitement.  I know I could swap the items I don't care for but that gets really expensive really quickly because I often fail to factor in shipping costs and it really just boils down to me getting more products to try that I don't need.  I can find room for five samples and it keeps me out of the stores and from spending much more on makeup and skincare that I really don't need.  So really $120 a year versus the outrageous amounts I used to spend is a bargain.  Honestly no one I interact with on a daily basis cares about this stuff, so if thirty cents a day keeps me satisfied then that's cool.

This month i received one full size sample - Jesse's Girl Baked Eye shadow in Plum Frost, and four travel size or deluxe size samples - Starlooks mini lip gloss in Pout, Fig and Rouge Berry Rose hand cream, Epice exfoliating skin care for face and Ecru Acacia BB Cream for hair.  As close as I can tell the products are worth about $25.  $3.99 for the shadow, $4.99 for the exfoliator, $6.50 for the hand cream $7.00-ish for the hair product and possibly $2.50 for the lip gloss.  This doesn't include the cost of the bag which was a really cute turquoise quilted patent leatherette.  I love the position of the zipper on these new Ipsy bags and the Ipsy zipper pull.  They don't break as easily and I throw them in my purse all the time, so I also appreciate this one will wipe clean.

The shadow is really pigmented and becomes foil like when you wet the brush before you apply it.  I love pink and rose toned shadows, so this is a color I will get a lot of use from.  I was surprised at the quality and size of the single for the low price point.  It is much better than the standard powder pans from the same company.  This was the highlight for me.

The mini lip gloss was okay, but I find it annoying that Starlooks is a company that has the same formula as Ipsy and they mainly sell their cosmetics in a monthly subscription.  I think their single priced items are very high and not a good value unless you subscribe.  I have successfully refrained from ever subbing to them because I have now tried their eyeliners, lip liners and lip gloss through Ipsy but their products didn't justify the escalated prices.  If you want to grab my attention, you need to send a full size product.  This mini gloss just didn't excite me enough to bite on a subscription of solely their branded makeup.  I did appreciate the full size liners I received in previous boxes but they weren't in colors I really liked.

This is the third Epice exfoliator I've received and I have yet to open one.  I guess with my Clarisonic and sensitive skin I just don't need this type of product.  I've marked that several times on Ipsy reviews but seem to get it a lot.  I don't know why, but I wish they would get the hint.

I get really itchy and occasionally develop hives from some products containing shea, and the Fig and Rouge product I received in a Glossybox gave me that reaction so I will pass this on.  I am curious as to the scent, but don't want to open it.

Finally, it may just be me but it drives me crazy that EVERY product now touts itself as a BB something.  Beauty Balms are multi tasking products.  Awesome.  I get it.  I was really excited over what I thought was a full size skincare BB cream facial cosmetic but instead I got another travel size hair product.  I can pretty much guarantee my hair will never be frizzy again thanks to sub boxes because it is a constantly reoccurring item.

This wasn't a great month but it was okay.  I will give some of it as gifts and I'll use the shadow, bag, lip glosss and even the hair product although I still think it has a dumb misleading name.  It was worth exactly ten dollars to me this month.

One more quick thing - I was in love with my new Baltimore Orioles winter hat my friend Curt gave me and posted a picture of it on my noggin on Instagram.  Unfortunately my beloved Obi-Wan thought it was a new toy and completely killed the cute pom pom on top.  I didn't recognize its toy potential and left it within his reach (although he had to hop up on the bench and then get on the table to grab it before he dragged it under the table and obliterated it.  I will have to try and fix it but for now I was too frustrated to put it back together.  Grrr.

 Hope you all have a lovely tomorrow and that things aren't quite so unraveled for you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tonight's Thrown Together Dinner

Like many people I have a ton of food in my pantry and freezer that I always seem to forget about when we do our weekly shopping trip.  In an effort to "make some room" in our freezer and cupboards I am trying to be creative with ingredients we already have on hand, and come up with some quick and easy weeknight dinners.  Tonight I made a skillet dish with some ground turkey that I purchased this week but added our "in stock" pantry items to make it interesting.  It was all made in one skillet and in about 30 minutes while a dessert bubbled away in the oven.

It doesn't look all that delicious in this picture, but it had a good mix of textures and tasted really good.  I browned a pound of Jenny-O ground turkey and poured off the fat, seasoned it with Mrs. Dash and McCormick's garlic and herb seasoning mix, then added two and a half cups of water and brought it to a boil.  In went half a bag of frozen baby lima beans, and when it returned to a boil again I added the rice portion of a box of Rice-a-Roni in the creamy garlic variety.  The heat was turned low and it was covered to simmer for 17 minutes, then the seasoning packet was added along with 3/4 of hot water and 4 tablespoons of white cheddar cheese powder which I purchase in a bulk container from our local Amish market.  The end result was creamy, garlicky, and not too salty because the salt inherent in the rice mix and cheddar was just enough.  Andy thought it was delicious and I will definitely make it again.  The turkey and the ditching of the added butter, milk and salt made it a little lighter too.

Dessert was NOT light by any stretch of the imagination!  I bought Andy a cookbook on our anniversary and told him he could pick any dessert he wanted me to make from it and we'd celebrate with it some night this week.  Cathy Mitchell's Quick and Easy Dump Cakes was the book, and he was very excited because his mother's dump cake is one of his favorite desserts.  Hers has a can of cherry pie filling and a can of crushed pineapple topped with a yellow cake mix, melted butter, coconut flakes and pecans.  I'm allergic to pineapple, so when I make it I often substitute canned peaches.  The dessert he chose was called a peach crunch cake and it was pretty amazing.  The book has a TON of recipes that have practically no prep.  You pretty much just literally dump the ingredients in the pan in the order they tell you and then bake it.  There are brownies, bar cookies, cakes and all sorts of treats you can make and clean up is a snap.  I only had a knife and a measuring cup to wash - not too shabby!  I am looking forward to trying more recipes from this book.  I wish it had photographs for all of the desserts rather than just a few, but then again that would encourage me to bake more and I need to lose weight, not find it!

My finished Peach Crunch Cake

The recipe was incredibly easy and the only change I made was using chopped pecans rather than pecan halves because they were already in my pantry for baking.  I chopped up the sliced peaches a little more so they spread across the whole baking dish, but it wasn't a necessary step.  The only other ingredients were the nuts and some brown sugar sprinkled over the top.  The topping was slightly crunchy from the caramelized sugar and the nuts and the peach flavor reminded me of the pies at the Varsity restaurant in Atlanta.  Oh how I miss having those little marvels of hot peach perfection when we'd travel to Atlanta in search of fabric.  I always got a nifty little red and white striped paper hat too because I would tell them I was under ten.  They may have been skeptical, but they gave me one anyway.  The people at the Varsity were cool like that, and their hot dogs are another thing I dream about from my time in the deep South.  Yum.

One word of caution - it is incredibly difficult to get this out of the pan in an attractive way.  If you want it to look nice, say for example you wanted to photograph it for your blog looking all pretty, delicious and put together it will say "uh, nope".  Trust me though,  it was smashing.

Now I am probably going to have to break down and buy Cathy Mitchell's other recipe book which is the same dump cooking method applied to savory dinner items.  The dessert cookbook was only $8.99 at Rite Aide this week which I actually thought was a reasonable price.  I need another cookbook like I need a hole in the head, particularly since I have been able to review and keep some amazing ones from Blogging for Books, but it was a gift so it didn't quite count.  Ha ha.

One more quick thing - the latest book I chose from the good folks at Blogging for Books is the Neil Patrick Harris autobiography.  I am incredibly excited to read it.  I have never seen a full episode of How I Met Your Mother, but when I was a kid I loved Doogie Howser M.D. and I have followed N.P.H.'s career on and off Broadway for years and years.  His performances in Assassins and Sweeney Todd blew me away, and I'm sad I have yet to see him in a Broadway show.  Someday I know it will happen, and when it does I will try to refrain from making a total fool of myself the way I did with Brian Stokes Mitchell (who happens to be an extraordinarily lovely gentleman) and Rex Smith (who was kind of a douche, and who did not take my breath away).  When it arrives I will tear through it and since it's set up as a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style of book I will try to have it end in his demise by piranhas at least once because that's an exciting Hollywood tale if ever I heard one!

Hope you are all having a very happy hump day.  Hope your tomorrow is awesome too.